Saturday, August 15, 2009

Things with Wings

No time to get out and take more photos or even enjoy being outside for any significant length of time while there is daylight. So I have gone back into the recent archives searching for "things with wings" as the theme.

Some birds have such recognizable and distinct profiles that you can ID them from afar. That is certainly the case for this Great Blue Heron that I snapped quickly as it soared overhead along the other side of the Zumbro River in early July. We have no other herons of this size in Minnesota, and the way herons fly with their legs stretched out and their necks tucked in shows clearly even in this tiny silhouette.



And many birds have such distinct plumage that you can ID them from a single feather. Here is some clear evidence that a wild turkey is nearby. Let's see where they can be ...


Ahh ... here they are. These are the half-grown chicks having at the birdseed I put on the ground for them.

And here is one of the hens with a couple of the other chicks in the flower bed I just planted. They let me get to within about 7 feet of them. I think they must feel fairly safe when I am on the patio and they are above me on the ground. She and the chicks are keeping a sharp eye on me, never-the-less.

The next pics are of insects, some of them I know and some of them I don't know. Even if I don't know their common or scientific name, I can usually tell which Order of Insecta they are in. Of course this is what I am remembering from my undergraduate classes many years ago, so my knowledge is not current (or easily retrieved from my the dim recesses of my brain). This will at least get me started on keying them out.


Even I can tell you that these are honey bees. Now whether they are the Africanized bees or straight domestic bees is beyond me. They weren't aggressive, which is a behavior characteristic of the Africanized ones. Regardless, they are in the Order Hymenoptera along with the wasps and ants.

Coleoptera, the beetles. More insects are in the Colecoptera Order than in any other order. Was it Darwin who said that God must have a special fondness for beetles? It seems that this particular beetle has a special fondness for yarrow...


Pretty sure this is a leafhopper,which puts it in the Order Homoptera. I think this one looks like a clown car.


This one is probably a planthopper, also in the Order Homoptera with the leafhoppers. But I'm not certain. It is a real comical looking creature, isn't it? Click on it to have a closer look at its little red button eyes and cabbage leaf wings.

Like the honey bees above, this wasp is in the Order Hymenoptera. I love the contrast between the green thorax and head and the deep yellow of its back legs. At first I had assumed that the yellow was pollen that had collected as the wasp had been feeding, but upon a closer look it seems that the yellow is hair on the legs. Click on it to see the details and let me know what you think.
Today, I looked at the coneflowers and they are beginning to fade pretty rapidly. Tomorrow I may cut back the oldest. Sometimes that encourages another round of flowers, although the second round is usually smaller. The days are definitely getting shorter and signs of fall are all around; the white snakeroot is in full bloom, the apples are turning red, and the yellow jackets are getting more active.

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